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House of Commons Hansard
18 July 2016
Volume 613

  • With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the terrorist attack in Nice and the threat we face from terrorism in the UK.

    The full horror of last Thursday night’s attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice defies all comprehension. At least 84 people were killed when a heavy goods lorry was driven deliberately into crowds enjoying Bastille day celebrations. Ten of the dead are believed to have been children and teenagers. More than 200 people were injured and a number are in a critical condition. Consular staff on the ground are in touch with local authorities and assisting British nationals caught up in the attack, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is providing support to anyone concerned about friends or loved ones.

    Over the weekend, the French police made a number of arrests, and in the coming weeks we will learn more about the circumstances behind the attack. These were innocent people enjoying national celebrations—they were families, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, friends, and many of them were children. They were attacked in the most brutal and cowardly way possible, as they simply went about their lives. Our thoughts and prayers must be with the families who have lost loved ones, the survivors fighting for their lives, the victims facing appalling injuries and all those mentally scarred by the events of that night.

    I have spoken to my counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, to offer him the sympathy of the British people and to make it clear that we stand ready to help in any way we can. We have offered investigative assistance to the French authorities and security support to the French diplomatic and wider community in London. This is the third terrorist attack in France in the last 18 months with a high number of deaths, and we cannot underestimate its devastating impact. We have also seen attacks in many other countries, and those killed and maimed by these murderers include people of many nationalities and faiths. Recently, we have seen attacks in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey and America, as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria, and last month we marked a year since 38 people—30 of them British—were murdered at a beach resort in Tunisia.

    In the UK, the threat from international terrorism, which is determined by the independent joint terrorism analysis centre, remains at “severe”, meaning that an attack is “highly likely”. The public should be vigilant but not alarmed. On Friday, following the attack in Nice, the police and security and intelligence agencies took steps to review our security measures and ensure we had robust procedures in place, and I receive regular updates. All police forces have reviewed upcoming events taking place in their regions to ensure that security measures are appropriate and proportionate.

    The UK has considerable experience in managing and policing major events. Extra security measures are used at particularly high-profile events, including—when the police assess there to be a risk of vehicle attacks—the deployment of the national barrier asset. This is made up of a range of temporary equipment, including security fences and gates, that enables the physical protection of sites. Since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, we have also taken steps to improve the response of police firearms teams and other emergency services to a marauding gun attack. We have protected and increased counter-terrorism police funding for 2016-17 in real terms, and over the next five years, we are providing £143 million for the police to boost their firearms capability further.

    We continue to test our response to terrorist attacks, including by learning the lessons from attacks such as those in France and through national exercises involving the Government, the military, the police, the ambulance and fire and rescue services and other agencies.

    The threat from terrorism, however, is serious and growing. Our security and intelligence services are first rate, and they work tirelessly around the clock to keep the people of this country safe. Over the next five years, we will make an extra £2.5 billion available to those agencies, and that will include funding for an additional 1,900 staff at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, as well as strengthening our network of counter-terrorism experts in the middle east, north Africa, south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

    We have also taken steps to deal with foreign fighters and to prevent radicalisation by providing new powers through the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, and we continue to take forward the Investigatory Powers Bill, which will ensure that the police, the security and the intelligence agencies have the powers they need to keep people safe in the digital age.

    The UK has in place strong measures to respond to terrorist attacks, and since coming to office in 2010 the Government have taken significant steps to bolster that response, but Daesh and other terrorist organisations seek to poison people’s minds and they peddle sickening hate and lies to encourage people to plot acts of terrorism or leave their families to join terrorists. That is not just in France or this country, but in countries all around the world. We must confront that hateful propaganda and expose it for what it is.

    In this country, that means working to expose the emptiness of extremism and safeguard vulnerable people from becoming radicalised. Our Prevent programme works in partnership with families, communities and civil society groups to challenge the poisonous ideology that supports terrorism. This includes supporting civil society groups to build their own capacity, and since January 2014 its counter-narrative products have had widespread engagement with communities. In addition, more than 1,000 people have received support since 2012 through Channel, the voluntary and confidential support programme for those at risk of radicalisation.

    This is an international problem that requires an international solution, so we are working closely with our European partners, allies in the counter-Daesh coalition and those most affected by the threat that Daesh poses to share information, build counter-terrorism capability and exchange best practice.

    As the Prime Minister has said, we must work with France and our partners around the world to stand up for our values and for our freedom. Nice was attacked on Bastille day, itself a French symbol of liberation and national unity. Those who attack seek to divide us and spread hatred, so our resounding response must be one of ever-greater unity between different nations but also between ourselves. This weekend we saw unity in action as people came together to support each other. People sent messages of condolence, and Muslims in this country and around the world have said that those who carry out such attacks do not represent the true Islam.

    I want to end by sending a message to our French friends and neighbours. What happened in Nice last Thursday was cruel and incomprehensible. The horror and devastation is something many people will live with for the rest of their lives. We know you are hurting; we know this will cause lasting pain. Let me be quite clear: we will stand with you; we will support you in this fight, and together with our partners around the world, we will defeat those who seek to attack our way of life.

  • I start by welcoming the Home Secretary to her new position and welcoming her well-judged and heartfelt words to the House today. She spoke for us all in condemning this nauseating attack, and in sending our sympathy and solidarity to the families affected and to the French people. From the very outset of the right hon. Lady’s tenure, let me assure her of my ongoing support in presenting a united front from this House to those who plan and perpetrate these brutal acts.

    It is a sad reflection of the dark times in which we live that this is the third time in the last nine months that we have gathered to discuss a major terrorist incident in mainland Europe. Each new incident brings new factors and changes perceptions of the nature of the threat posed by modern terrorism—and this one was no different. This was an act of indiscriminate and sickening brutality, made all the more abhorrent by the targeting of families and children. Ten children and babies were killed, 50 are still being treated, and many more have been orphaned and left with lasting psychological scars. Unlike other attacks, this was not planned by a cell with sophisticated tactics and weapons. A similar attack could be launched anywhere at any time, and that is what makes it so frightening and so difficult to predict and prevent.

    Let me start with the question of whether there are any immediate implications for the United Kingdom. On Friday, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said that UK police were “reviewing” security plans for “large public events” taking place this week. What conclusions were reached as part of that review, and were any changes made in the light of it? Will the Home Secretary be issuing any updated security advice to the organisers of the numerous large public gatherings and festivals that will take place throughout the country over the rest of the summer? We welcome the Mayor of London’s confirmation that the Metropolitan police were reviewing safety measures in the capital. Can the Home Secretary confirm that similar reviews are taking place in large cities throughout the United Kingdom?

    After the attacks in Paris, the Home Secretary’s predecessor committed herself to an urgent review of our response to firearms attacks. It has been suggested in the French media that if armed officers had been on the scene more quickly in Nice, they could have prevented the lorry from travelling as far as it did. Has the review that was commissioned been completed, and if so, what changes in firearms capability are proposed as a result? In the wake of Paris, the Home Secretary’s predecessor also promised to protect police budgets, but that has not been honoured, and there are real-terms cuts this year. Will the new Home Secretary pledge today to protect police budgets in real terms?

    The Home Secretary mentioned the Prevent programme. I have to say that I do not share her complacent view of what it is achieving. In fact, some would say that it is counter-productive, creating a climate of suspicion and mistrust and, far from tackling extremism, creating the very conditions for it to flourish. The Government’s own Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has said that the whole programme

    “could benefit from independent review.”

    Will the Home Secretary accept Labour’s call for a cross-party review of how the statutory Prevent duty is working?

    Immediately after the attack, it was described in the media as an act of Islamic terrorism, but it is now clear that the lifestyle of the individual had absolutely nothing to do with the Islamic faith, and the French authorities have cast doubt on whether there was any link between him and Daesh. Does the Home Secretary agree that promptly labelling this attack Islamic terrorism hands a propaganda coup to the terrorists, whose whole purpose is to deepen the rift between the Muslim community and the rest of society? Does she agree that more care should be taken with how such atrocities are labelled in future?

    This was, of course, the first attack in Europe since the European Union referendum. Can the Home Secretary assure the House that, in these times, she and the wider Government are making every effort to maintain strong collaboration with the French and the European authorities, and to send them the clear message that, whatever our differences, Britain will always be by their side and ready to help?

  • I thank the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) for his comments, and for his confirmation at an early stage that we work across the House to address and to fight this dangerous terrorism, and will be able to continue to do so.

    The right hon. Gentleman asked particularly about the reviewing of public events. Let me reassure him, and the whole House, that we are constantly ensuring that we make expert advice available to the people who run such events. We have 170 counter-terrorism security advisers who are in touch with all of them—including, when necessary, those in large cities—so that they can be given the right advice. That advice is being taken, so that we can ensure that people are as safe as possible.

    The right hon. Gentleman made some comments about Prevent. Let me correct him on one point. There is nothing complacent about what the Government do to address terrorism and dangerous ideology. I accept that there is always more to do, but the right hon. Gentleman should not underestimate what the Prevent strategy has achieved so far. Many people have been deterred from going to Syria. Many children have been introduced to the strategy at school, and people in the public sector have benefited from it and been prevented from going to Syria. There is always more to do, but a lot is being accomplished by this strategy.

    Finally, the right hon. Gentleman made some comments about the reporting in the press about the role and the word of Islam, and I simply say to him that I think it is for all faiths and all people to unite against the barbarity of this attack, and that is the clear message that this House should convey.

  • As chair of our groupe d’amitié between the two Parliaments, may I just encourage my good friend the Secretary of State—we have served on the Council of Europe together on many of these issues—donne-à nos amis Français notre solidarité, nos pensées et notre encouragement? Nous sommes avec vous maintenant et pour toujours.

  • My hon. Friend is entirely right: nous sommes avec vous—and now I will return to English. I was able to speak to my French counterpart this morning, Bernard Cazeneuve, and I also say, in part response to my hon. Friend, that of course we will continue our very strong friendship and mutual support for the French whatever the outcome.

  • I congratulate the Home Secretary on her new role, and welcome her to her place. I trust she will bring to her role the rigour and wit she displayed on behalf of the Remain campaign during the EU referendum. I also hope the fact that we are both graduates of Edinburgh University of about the same vintage will enable us to work together in the same constructive fashion as I hope I did with her predecessor.

    There are no words to describe adequately the unspeakable horror, the merciless cruelty and the senselessness of the attack perpetrated in Nice last week. One’s heart goes out to the victims, the bereaved and the injured, especially the children. I wish to add the condolences of myself and my colleagues on the Scottish National party Benches to the people of France. I welcome the tone of the Home Secretary’s statement and thank her for notice of it, and I would like to associate myself and the SNP with her comments about the gratitude we all feel to those who strive to keep us safe, whether it be the police or the intelligence services.

    Scotland, like the rest of the UK, stands in sadness and solidarity with France, a country that has already had to bear way more than any country should be expected to. We stand ready to offer whatever assistance we can. While there are no doubt challenges that we face from this increasingly savage criminality and terrorism, the Scottish Government are committed to working with the UK Government to defeat these threats against the freedoms we all value so dearly.

    I am pleased by the reassurances the Home Secretary has already given and I have just three questions for her. First, will she give a commitment that her response to terrorist attacks will never be knee-jerk, but will always be proportionate and targeted, as well as effective? Secondly, will she give similar assurances to those given by her predecessor to affirm the importance of having a united community across the UK at the core of our efforts in fighting terrorism, and in particular will she acknowledge the importance of avoiding alienating our Muslim community, who are a highly valued and integral part of Scottish and United Kingdom society? Thirdly, there are camps in northern France filled with refugees who have experienced similar violence to that perpetrated in Nice. Just last week the camp in Calais, where people have perforce had to make their homes, was threatened with bulldozing and demolition. Will the Home Secretary work with the French Government to ensure the understandable anger of the French populace is not misdirected towards those innocents, who are also fleeing from violence in their own countries?

  • I thank the hon. and learned Lady for her comments and her introductory remarks, and also for repeating the same message we have received from the Opposition: that we will all work together on addressing this dangerous issue. She asked a number of key questions, and I of course reassure her that I hope there will never be anything knee-jerk in our response to such events. I hope we will be able to build on the experiences we have in order to get a more secure future.

    The hon. and learned Lady has asked us to work across communities, and I imagine she meant devolved communities as well as all faith communities, and of course we will do that. I am reminded, because we have already had questions about large events, that a good example of us working with devolved Administrations was when we worked together on the Glasgow Commonwealth games in 2014 jointly to combat any terrorism there.

    Finally on Calais, the hon. and learned Lady is absolutely right that we need to work closely with our French counterparts and I did discuss that this morning with Bernard Cazeneuve, and I will take that forward with him to make sure we get the best outcome.

  • May I welcome my right hon. Friend to her new position and thank her for her measured, assured and authoritative statement? Does she agree that both the previous Prime Minister and our new Prime Minister have always made it clear that there is a distinction between the ideology of Islamist extremism, which animates organisations such as Daesh and is driven by prejudice and hate, and the great religion of Islam, a religion of peace that brings spiritual nourishment to millions? Is it not vital in the days ahead that while we focus on countering extremism, we also underline the benefits that the faith of Islam has brought to so many?

  • I thank my right hon. Friend for making that important point so eloquently, as is often the case. He is absolutely right to say that we need to make that distinction, and I say once more that it is for all faiths and all people to unite together to make sure we condemn this dreadful terrorism.

  • I warmly welcome the Home Secretary to her new position and remind her that her predecessor had a career-enhancing 20 appearances before the Select Committee during her time in office—I hope she will continue with that engagement in her new office. Reports have emerged from France, from Bernard Cazeneuve and Manuel Valls, that the perpetrator of this atrocity had been radicalised very quickly by the internet. Does the Home Secretary agree that whatever the truth of this as it emerges, the internet remains a key battleground in our fight against terrorism? Will she do all she can to work with Europol and Interpol to make the internet companies do more to take down those subversive videos?

  • I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question, and of course I look forward to every one of my appearances before his Select Committee. He raises an important point about how people are radicalised. First, I must suggest a moment of caution, because we do not know the answer on that yet; we perhaps know some of the examples of where this person was not radicalised, but we do not know exactly how he was radicalised, and that investigation is going on. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that making sure that the internet is not used as a dangerous tool for radicalising people is incredibly important. We do have a strategic communications unit, based in the Foreign Office, which takes down websites, but we will always make sure we do as much as possible to address that particular source.

  • I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her elevation to the Home Office. May I ask her, given that she emphasised the global threat of terrorism, whether any lessons have been learned from this latest terrorist attack for the security arrangements for the Olympic games? We will not have an opportunity to discuss that, so is she satisfied that the efforts that our security services are putting in will mean that our participants will be safe?

  • I thank my right hon. Friend for the question, and I can reassure him that we are already engaged with the people who are running the Olympics in Brazil to make sure that we make the games as safe as possible. Our London Olympics team went over to ensure that that was the case. We think we have substantial expertise here, and we are happy to share it, particularly where there are large events such as the Olympics.

  • I welcome the Home Secretary to her new post. Terrorism is aptly named, as it thinks up new and more awful ways of committing mass murder. What discussions has she had with the intelligence and security services about unconventional weapons being used in terrorism? Given that Nice is a provincial city in France, can she tell me honestly that my constituents in Wolverhampton enjoy the same level of protection against terrorism as people living in London?

  • I am here to reassure the right hon. Gentleman and his constituents that we are doing all we can to ensure that they and all of our constituents are kept safe, and we will always keep particular incidents under review to make sure that we can give people as much certainty as possible. One thing we are particularly focused on is large crowds and big events, and the Security Service and the police will be monitoring and reviewing particular events, or places of large gatherings, to ensure that we keep people safe.

  • Our security forces have to overcome huge inhibitions before deciding to open fire on someone who poses a lethal threat to innocent people. Can the Home Secretary confirm that if such a decision is made, the intention must be to stop the threat in its tracks, which invariably means shooting to kill, not to wound?

  • My hon. Friend puts it very well. Clearly, the priority must be to save innocent lives. We must always ensure that our security forces and police firearms officers have not only the right tools and equipment but the right permissions to do what is necessary to keep us all safe.

  • I too welcome the Home Secretary to her new role albeit in such tragic circumstances.

    Media reports today state that, unlike with previous terrorist attacks in France, no clear link has yet been established between the person who committed these terrible offences and recognised terrorist groups. Can she confirm that that is the case and, if so, tell us what steps the UK Government are taking to address this rather worrying development?

  • I thank the hon. Lady for her question. I must point out that we are talking about a French citizen in Nice, and that we are awaiting further information. I think she is drawing attention to potential radicalisation from the internet, which some people are suggesting is what happened in this case. We will of course keep the matter under review and see what other action we can take, but we must wait to see what the conclusions are.

  • Hundreds of thousands of British families will already have booked holidays this summer, and many of them will be going to the French Riviera, to Paris or to some of the other wonderful cities around France. Will the Home Secretary work with the Foreign Secretary to ensure that British families are given common-sense guidance to keep them safe during the holidays? I hope that none of them will change their plans, so that part of our standing side by side with the French people will involve many British families enjoying holidays in France this year.

  • My hon. Friend makes an important point. He has put his finger on exactly what a lot of people will be thinking at the moment. I would advise him, his constituents and friends who are concerned to check the Foreign Office website. We will ensure that there is always as much helpful and current information on it as possible.

  • Will the Home Secretary tell us what progress is being made to ensure that the Investigatory Powers Bill reaches the statute book? She will know that the powers in the Bill are essential for supporting the security services in dealing with potential lone attackers, profiling such attackers and ensuring that we use the internet to protect our safety as well as the liberty of individuals.

  • The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point. He is right that the Investigatory Powers Bill will give us additional help to intercept the sort of terrorism that created the events of last weekend. I hope that we will be able to get it on the statute book by the end of the year. This is exactly the sort of event that makes it even more pressing for us to do so.

  • The Secretary of State might be aware that, in the Home Affairs Committee’s inquiry into radicalisation and home-grown terrorism, we took evidence on the alarming trend of online radicalisation, especially of loners and low-level criminals. She has mentioned the internet, and social media sites were found not to be robust enough in either removing or blocking content posted by Daesh and its affiliates, which is uploaded only to terrorise or to groom would-be terrorists. Will she undertake a review of social media sites and their ability to be used to groom vulnerable people?

  • My hon. Friend raises an important point. It is critical that we address the radicalisation that can happen through social media and internet sites. That is why we have a strategic communication unit based in the Foreign Office, and we are focused on taking down websites of that kind. We will continue to keep the matter under review to ensure that we do as much as possible.

  • On the behalf of the Liberal Democrats, I welcome the new Home Secretary to her role and echo her condolences to the families and friends of those who were so senselessly murdered. The massacre of the innocents in Nice will strengthen the resolve of all who believe in democracy and freedom to confront terrorists wherever in the world they strike. When our closest ally is under attack, does the Home Secretary agree that the UK must use all the organisations and measures at our disposal to help, including Interpol, Europol and the European arrest warrant, and that the closest possible co-operation is our best defence against the murderous activities of terrorists or lone wolves?

  • I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his comments and for the Liberal Democrats’ support for the consensus in the House to stand with our allies—our friends—in France. He is right that we need a close relationship with our allies, both European and those from outside Europe, to ensure that we deepen knowledge and share information to combat terrorism. I will ensure that we continue to do that.

  • Tourist destinations and travel interchanges have tragically been the targets of evil terrorist acts. Will the Home Secretary provide a firm assurance that Gatwick airport will receive the necessary security resources to ensure that those travelling through will be safe this summer and beyond?

  • I am pleased that my hon. Friend raises that point, because I am keen to reassure everybody that that is exactly what will happen. We will continue to keep our airports under constant review—we must. We will do so by ensuring that everyone who works at Gatwick, lives around it and travels through is as safe as possible.

  • I thank the Home Secretary for her statement and wish her well in her new role. Our hearts ache for all those who have lost loved ones in France and elsewhere.

    According to interviews in the media, it seems that security levels in Nice and across France were reduced after the Euros. The United Kingdom has been at a high level of readiness for some years—since 2010 in Northern Ireland. Does the Home Secretary accept that the threat level will be severe for the foreseeable future, that the general public must be vigilant, careful and responsive and that, now more than ever, the exchange of intelligence between the security forces of western countries must continue?

  • I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. He is absolutely right that the terror threat level is already at severe, and that we must all be vigilant. We will continue to take that approach until we have any other information to the contrary, but our current status, given that so many people want to do us harm, is that we must be vigilant.

  • Once upon a time, it was useful to refer to lone wolves—individuals who would attack without any institutional support. Does my right hon. Friend agree that such people do not exist today? Due to the internet and online radicalisation, behind every lone wolf is a pack of wolves supporting them online. Will she make it a priority as Home Secretary to tackle online radicalisation so that we can be better protected in the future?

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. A theme is emerging of many Members asking questions about the radicalisation of people through the internet. I will indeed ensure that we put extra effort into tackling that and keeping it under review, and that we take down the relevant websites as often as possible.

  • I welcome the Home Secretary to her new post. The shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), rightly said that a similar terrible attack could happen anywhere at any time. Salford’s policing resources are already stretched by high levels of crime, including stabbings and shootings, in addition to the new threats. Can the Home Secretary assure me that she will protect Great Manchester police’s budget so that the police can protect my constituents?

  • The police play a critical role in ensuring that we are all kept safe, which is why my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister protected the police budget in last year’s review. However, I will certainly take a careful look at all spending within the police budget to ensure that the maximum amount is available for the clear, visible policing on our streets that plays such an important part in deterring criminal activity.

  • In light of the budget announcement that the Home Secretary has just referred to, will she confirm that the Metropolitan police has increased its armed response vehicle capacity, that this country’s armed officers have the capacity to neutralise a threat like that in Nice and that we have the most professional armed officers in the world?

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are very proud of the high standards of our professional armed officers, and we announced in April that the number of armed police would increase by more than 1,000 over the next two years. Additional round-the-clock specialist teams are being set up outside London, and 40 additional police armed response vehicles are on our streets.

  • I was on the Promenade des Anglais on Thursday evening, watching the fireworks with the crowd, and was very lucky to leave just a few minutes before the attack. The haunting sight for me, having been so fortunate not to have seen the carnage itself, came on my drive to the airport. The Promenade des Anglais is a busy thoroughfare, and the flowers for the victims stretched on and on and on—truly, it will haunt me for a long time.

    Is the Home Secretary as troubled as I am by the tension between our natural human desire to focus in on the horror of events such as these—that is the focus of the world’s media and the focus of Parliament in statements such as this—and the inevitable extra publicity that that gives to the terrorists, who want to show that they can create a level of carnage and disruption far beyond what their military capability would otherwise allow?

  • I thank the hon. Gentleman for sharing his experience with us. Such personal stories make the tragedy come to life for us. He raises the important point that we want people to be vigilant and aware, but we do not want to give the terrorists the sort of publicity that they want. Our intelligence is that, because we are making progress against them and against Daesh in general, they are now trying to find ways of lashing out and being dangerous. It is right that we know that this is taking place, so that everybody can be vigilant against it.

  • May I welcome my right hon. Friend to her new position? As it is some time since the announcement was made of the recruitment of 1,900 more security staff, can the Home Secretary tell the House how many have so far been recruited?

  • I thank my hon. Friend for that question. I cannot give him the exact number at the moment, but I can tell him that we have made good progress, and that I will write to him with that number.

  • May I wish the right hon. Lady well in her appointment? With many British citizens due to take part in Battle of the Somme events this year, will she do all she can to ensure that visits go ahead and that we have good co-operation with our French allies so that British people taking part can be safe and secure?

  • The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that it is essential that such events go on, particularly when we are remembering something like the Battle of the Somme—the scale of the massacre there puts some of the difficulties that we have here in perspective. I will indeed engage with my French counterpart to ensure that we do all that we can to give France the support that it needs to keep everybody safe.

  • May I congratulate the Home Secretary on her statement and welcome her and her team to their roles? Does she agree that whether we are in or out of Europe, Britain and France must stand together to tackle terrorism, tackle human trafficking, keep our borders safe and secure and uphold the Le Touquet treaty? In that way, our two nations are safer, stronger and more secure.

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. National security remains the sole responsibility of member states, and we will continue to work bilaterally with France, sharing information and deepening our relationship so that we can ensure that we keep both our countries safe.

  • I welcome the Home Secretary to her post. She is right to condemn these vicious atrocities in Nice. After the Paris attacks in November, her predecessor, the new Prime Minister, committed to a review of firearms responses in the United Kingdom. Can she update the House on how that review has gone and whether any changes have been instigated as a result of it?

  • I thank the hon. Gentleman. That review is ongoing—it is not finished yet, but I will make sure that I get him an update of where we are so that he is fully informed.

  • I welcome my right hon. Friend to her place and condemn this barbarous attack, as everyone else has done.

    I welcome the extra money that my right hon. Friend has mentioned. Is she happy that the training facilities for the armed police will be sufficient to meet the extreme use to which they may be put, such as storming buildings to rescue hostages? That will require a high level of skill, investment and training.

  • We have some of the best armed officers in the world to undertake such a response, and we are in no doubt that we will take all necessary action to keep our people safe. If that requires additional training or expertise, we will take that seriously and keep it constantly under review to make sure that we can deliver it.

  • I welcome the Home Secretary to her post. This horrific attack was carried out using no specialised equipment, but it is not enough for us to play catch-up and think about how to protect people from a lorry attack. We should be imagining the unthinkable and pre-empting and taking precautions against every method of attack. Without going into detail, of course, can the Home Secretary give us assurances that the security services are doing that?

  • The hon. Lady makes an important point about the type of weapon that was used in this case. I repeat that there is an ongoing investigation in France. We have no further information or details, but we are keeping large events under particular review, so that we can ensure that the people promoting or hosting such events always have the important information that they need to keep the attendees safe.

  • The murderous rampage of this evil terrorist was eventually halted by armed police in Nice. Will the Home Secretary reiterate how satisfied she is with the availability of armed rapid response units in our regional towns and cities?

  • We will continue to keep that under review to ensure that we always keep people safe. Over the next five years, for example, we are providing £143 million for the police to further boost their firearms capability. No risk will be taken with security.

  • As well as deploying its security services and its police force, France has deployed more than 10,000 of its army personnel and has talked about calling up 55,000 reservists. During the Olympics, the British military played an important part in our security. May I assume that the Home Secretary is talking to the Secretary of State for Defence about the lessons that the British military can teach about ensuring security at large events?

  • The hon. Lady raises an important point about the value of collaboration between the Ministry of Defence and the Home Department to ensure that we always get the best outcome. We have done that work previously, and I look forward to continuing it with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.

  • Will the Home Secretary say a little more about the defence measures that we might have against such an attack taking place in the UK, and particularly about the ability of potential terrorists to get hold of, for example, a commercial vehicle?

  • We have particular assets that we use to combat such an attack. We have, for instance, the national barrier asset when the police assess that there is a risk of vehicle attacks. My hon. Friend may have seen those barriers—big plastic items set up outside areas of risk to combat exactly such an attack. We will make them available to areas where there are to be big gatherings, which are exactly the sorts of area that could be most vulnerable.

  • I welcome the Home Secretary to her new role. Last year the Opposition joined the Government in supporting the introduction of measures to restrict the movements of jihadists returning to the UK. Can the Home Secretary say how often those powers have been used?

  • I am certainly aware that we have those powers, and we are using them. Of course, the best thing is to try to discourage such people from going in the first place, but we are also making sure that we use those powers to stop them when they come back, and potentially to arrest them. I am happy to write to the hon. Lady to give her more information about the numbers.

  • I was privileged to attend an inter-faith Eid celebration dinner last night hosted by the Ahmadiyya community—a group that the new Prime Minister is aware of, and a fine example of a group teaching love, not hatred, and committed to helping local communities by raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for UK charities. Does the Home Secretary agree that we need to work with our Muslim communities to ensure that they are not targeted by hate crimes in the UK and that they are not linked to appalling attacks, which they condemn?

  • Order. People ought to show some sensitivity to the mores of the House. Forgive me, but that question was far too long.

  • The hon. Lady makes an important point about the role of communities and faith groups in making sure that the sort of terrorism we have seen, and the sort of hate that can sometimes apparently grow up so easily, is combated early on. I join her in congratulating that group.